Tweede Engelse Suite bewerkt | Afdrukken |
zaterdag, 02 februari 2013 20:41

Johann  Sebastian  Bach

Englische Suite Nr.5  in e    BWV 810

Prélude  -  Allemande  -  Courante  -  Sarabande  -  Les agréments de la même Sarabande  -  Bourrée I alternativement   -  Bourrée II  -  Gigue

Original for Keyboard   arrangement for violin and viola
by Marien Abspoel, 2011-2013

For Stefan Nooij

Of the Six English Suites by Bach the second is the only one with a prelude that is dominantly in two voices. Because these two voices are both attractive and equally demanding it offers a challenge to make an arrangement for violin and viola duet. Where more than two voices sound simultaneously in this arrangement the double stop playing is used, which might prove ambitious for modest players like me. This counts especially for the Sarabande that Bach composed almost entirely with four voices. 
In this arrangement the original score is arranged in such manner as to preserve as much as possible all notes identical to Bach’s original. Octave transposition is used when the low parts of the score reach below the C-string of the viola. At some places the violin-part is also transposed notably in the Gigue. Where Bach used chords with more than three notes sometimes the order of the notes in the chord is adjusted to facilitate playing with the violin-viola duet.
Does the performance on strings add some value to the original version? Apart from the joy of playing on the strings and playing together as a trio, stringed instruments offer possibilities that the harpsichord does not have, like crescendo and decrescendo on one note, tone-colour and the specific bow-on-string articulation. The complex interplay of the fugal writing is certainly easier on three instruments and perhaps also better perceivable for the listener. The typical use of dissonance and resolution does fit the strings very well, as we know of course of so many other works by Bach.
Some remarks on performance using this edition:
In the notation focus is laid to the small motives often called ‘The small form’ or ‘die kleine Form’. Which notes form a small motif that is recognizable by a musical analyst and a listener alike as a building stone in the rhetoric and architecture of the musical piece. Where does this small motiv start, and where is it demarcated from the previous structure? This is marked in this edition by breaking beams or adding a comma separating the motives. Bringing these motives to the forefront by articulation, dynamics and direction of playing enhances certainly the attractiveness and immediate appealing nature of this suite.
Slurred notes are to be played legato with a little accentuation of the first note starting the Slur, according to interpretations Nikolaus Harnoncourt liked to instruct.
Notes with two up-bow or down-bow signs are to be played with a separation and marked articulation of the beginning of the following notes.
For practice of convenience I did add some grace-notes to make the reading of the ornamentations more easy for most readers, in comparison with the signs Bach used to indicate different starting and ending versions of trills.

Bach arranged his own Inventions as a sequence with mounting keys. The use of some key-signatures seems not appropriate for the violin and viola strings, requiring a lot of position changes. Be this as it is. Let’s put some more exercise goals in these pieces! I gave some figures for finger placements to make the arrangement more easily accessible.
The bowing indications are intended as practical choices that proofed suitable from a musical and technical viewpoint, and as far as I am fairly informed about authentic historical practice. This arrangement is not meant to be a authoritative last interpretation of these pieces. I think these pieces invite to play as much as the title Inventions is not far away from the idea of playing itself.
There are other arrangements of Bach music for violin and viola, notably the Inventions, which for their strict two-voice composition fit very well in violin – viola arrangement. I hope this Suite will add more of the richness and joy of playing to the vast heritage of Bach’s music.
It was and is a great pleasure to rehearse this magnificent music with my violin partner Stefan Nooij.

Marien Abspoel, October 2012